left corner left corner
China Daily Website

A Tanzanian radio presenter brings countries together

Updated: 2013-07-07 08:30
By Li Aoxue ( China Daily)

Fadhili Mpunji dreamed of becoming a diplomat when he was an international relations student.

His wish was to connect the culture of his homeland, Tanzania, with others and see new places. Now, as a China Radio International presenter, the 37-year-old believes he has, in a way, achieved this ambition by connecting a Swahili-speaking audience in Africa with China.

Mpunji, who comes from Mbeya, worked for four years as a reporter for a government-run radio station in Tanzania. He believes the same audience who listened to him then is now interested in understanding everything about China - from sports to politics.

A Tanzanian radio presenter brings countries together

Fadhili Mpunji tells his Swahili-speaking audience about Chinese people, what they think and how they live. Wei Xiaohao / China Daily

"As China develops really fast nowadays, people around the world are keen on knowing more about China," he says.

"They would like to know why China develops so fast in its economy and what China is going to do for the world."

Mpunji recently visited the underdeveloped Xinjiang autonomous region in China's far west. Such areas are of particular interest to African listeners, he believes, because they offer opportunities to hear about how China is developing and offer potential lessons for Africa.

"Different from China and developed countries, people in Africa get outside information still through the traditional ways, such as TV and radio. These two media, therefore still play an important role in Africa."

Mpunji anchors a show called My Adventures in China in which he talks about his experiences in the country, answers questions and talks about how China is developing.

"One of the questions I have heard most is on the topic of family planning in China, as the Swahili audience considers it is abnormal to have one child per family," he says.

"But I tell them nowadays as more Chinese young couples are becoming career-driven, they don't have time and energy to bring up children, and some of them are even becoming DINKS (double income, no kids)."

Mpunji has been a radio presenter for 14 years, 10 of them in China, and considers the country his second home.

"The radio station in Tanzania is more commercialized, but in China I can cover the subjects I'm interested in, and radio programs made in China are more listener-oriented."

Mpunji came to China in 2003 and instantly fell in love with the country.

He has also had opportunities to interview ambassadors and other officials from around the world - chances he wouldn't have enjoyed in his old job, he says.

"I like communicating with people, and it is such a terrific thing that I get the opportunity to ask questions to these great people," he says.

Mpunji decided to work as a reporter rather than become a diplomat after talking with his former employer.

"My boss said working as a diplomat is dealing with country-to-country relations, while working as a reporter can reach a broader audience and even (the whole world).

"I'm glad that now by working as a radio reporter in China, I am kind of like a diplomat as I am learning Chinese culture and introducing it to a Swahili audience worldwide."

Swahili is the second most widely spoken native language in Africa after Hausa, Mpunji says. There are large Swahili-speaking communities in the Middle East, Europe and the United States, he adds.

"Swahili is a very important language in Africa, and if a person wants to integrate into society, speaking English or French is not enough," Mpunji says.

In China, too, there is a growing group of Chinese Swahili speakers, he says.

Mpunji plans to someday return home but has no regrets about coming to China.

"One of the harvests for me is that I have learned Chinese culture thoroughly," he says.

"One cannot learn culture from reading a book; neither can one learn it from school."

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.